Saturday, September 29, 2012

Review: "The Cabin in the Woods" Mixes New Ideas with Tired Cliches

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 75 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Running time: 95 minutes (1 hour, 35 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity
DIRECTOR: Drew Goddard
WRITERS: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
PRODUCER: Joss Whedon
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Deming (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Lisa Lassek
COMPOSER: David Julyan

HORROR/COMEDY with elements of an action film

Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker, Tim DeZarn, Tim Lenk, and Sigourney Weaver

The Cabin in the Woods is a 2012 comedy horror film directed and co-written by Drew Goddard and produced and co-written by Joss Whedon. Whedon and Goddard worked together on Whedon’s television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel. The film focuses on five friends who visit a remote cabin in the woods where they get more than the fun they bargained for.

Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly), Curt Vaughan (Chris Hemsworth), Jules Louden (Anna Hutchison), Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz), and the new guy, Holden McCrea (Jesse Williams), decide to take a break from school. The group travels to a remote area where there is a cabin owned by Curt’s cousin. They like the cabin’s rustic d├ęcor, but are surprised to find that the cellar is full of weird and bizarre odds and ends. They don’t know that their visit to the cabin in the woods has initiated something horrifying.

The Cabin in the Woods was filmed and completed back in 2009, but its release was delayed by the financial troubles of MGM. Lionsgate purchased the film and gave it a wide release in April 2012. I mention that the film is a little over three-years-old because Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard apparently wrote The Cabin in the Woods’ screenplay as a response to the “torture porn” horror film genre.

This kind of scary movie has been popular for the past several years, although its popularity seems to have peaked about three or four years ago. The genre’s most famous examples would be the Hostel and Saw film franchises. Torture porn isn’t the big horror movie thing anymore because it was surpassed by something new. Now, it’s demonic possession movies, especially films featuring possessed white girls. In the real world, white girls get snatched up by strangers. In the movie world, demons snatch their asses.

Anyway, as is to be expected of anything from two of the big Buffy/Angel guys, The Cabin in the Woods is fun and funny, and it also has a clever concept. However, the film never really seems to reach its potential; it’s as if Whedon and Goddard came up with an idea that deserved something bigger than what they planned for it. It is almost a good slasher movie; not quite developed enough to be a supernatural evil movie; and a slight misfire as a strange science fiction and H.P. Lovecraft-type weird horror movie.

Still, The Cabin in the Woods is funny, strange, and clever enough to be a welcome change for horror movie fans. Maybe, the film is such a novelty that its tricks could not work a second time, but for the most part, they work this first time.

6 of 10

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


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